September 26, 5:30
Join STOP! at SRQ Magazine’s modified Oxford Style debate on September 26. The STOP! team of Eileen Normile, Mollie Cardamone and Kate Lowman will debate in favor of having public hearings as part of the development approval process for new buildings.  The team apposing the motion will be Chris Gallagher, Kevin Cooper and Javi Suarez.
The debate structure is designed to promote respectful disagreement and to move the audience using both factual information and rhetorical skill. Attendees are asked their position on the topic both before and after the debate.  The two teams will be judged on how many audience members they sway from their initial positions.  For more information and tickets, click here.
September 26, 5:30
Registration and Light Bites/Wine: 5:30pm
Program: 5:45-7pm
Location: Mildred Sainer Pavillion, New College
5313 Bay Shore Rd, Sarasota, FL 34243
Tickets: $25/person


(A layman’s guide.)

Traffic Studies are what you make them. Different cities have different requirements. Some cities don’t require traffic studies at all for new development. The City of Sarasota has very specific requirements for its traffic studies and those requirements are actually a part of the Zoning Code (Appendix A—“Concurrency Calculation Methodology.”) Those same requirements are conveyed in the RFP (Request for Proposal) the City submits to traffic engineering firms whenever a study is necessary. It is the developer who is responsible for the cost of the study.


Sarasota City Plan (Comprehensive Plan)

The Long-Range Planning Division is responsible for developing, evaluating, and maintaining the City´s Comprehensive Plan, also known as the Sarasota City Plan. The Sarasota City Plan is a broad policy document that prescribes how the City will develop in future years. The first comprehensive plan was developed in 1925 by John Nolen [click here to view the Nolen Plan]. John Nolen was a well-known urban planner of his day. Updates to the Comprehensive Plan were produced in 1960, 1972, 1979, 1986, 1989, 1998, and most recently in 2005.

Beginning in 1979, Comprehensive Plans were prepared under the guidelines of the State of Florida´s Local Government Comprehensive Planning Act of 1975. This Act was amended in 1985 by the Local Government Comprehensive Planning and Land Development Regulation Act, commonly referred to as the “Growth Management Act”; and Plans are now prepared under the guidelines of the “Growth Management Act”.

Sarasota City Plan (Comprehensive Plan) on line.

Designing Walkable Urban Thoroughfares

Institute of Transportation Engineers Report

Purpose of This Report  Download Report

This report has been developed in response to widespread interest for improving both mobility choices and community character through a commitment to creating and enhancing walkable communities. Many agencies will work toward these goals using the concepts and principles in this report to ensure the users, community and other key factors are considered in the planning and design processes used to develop walkable urban thoroughfares.

Traditionally, through thousands of years of human settlement, urban streets have performed multiple functions. Mobility was one of the functions, but economic and social functions were important as well. Retail and social transactions have occurred along most urban thoroughfares throughout history. It is only in the 20th century that streets were designed to separate the mobility function from the economic and social functions. This report is intended to facilitate the restoration of the complex multiple functions of urban streets. It provides guidance for the design of walkable urban thoroughfares in places that currently support the mode of walking and in places where the community desires to provide a more walkable thoroughfare, and the context to support them in the future.

While the concepts and principles of context sensitive solutions (CSS) are applicable to all types of transportation facilities, this report focuses on applying the concepts and principles in the planning and design of urban thoroughfares—facilities commonly designated by the conventional functional classifications of arterials and collectors. Freeways, expressways and local streets are not covered in this report. The following chapters emphasize thoroughfares in “walkable communities”—compact, pedestrian-scaled villages, neighborhoods, town centers, urban centers, urban cores and other areas where walking, bicycling and transit are encouraged. Practitioners working on places and thoroughfares that do not completely fit within this report’s definition of walkable urban thoroughfares may also find this guidance useful in gaining an understanding of the flexibility that is inherent in the “Green Book”—the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials’ (AASHTO’s) Policy on Geometric Design of Highways and Streets (AASHTO, 2004a).

Download Report

Sarasota City Commission candidates split on downtown development approvals

By Zach Murdock Sarasota Herald Tribune

Four candidates say they want to limit administrative development
approvals, which do not require public hearings, and four said they can
support them.

SARASOTA – The eight candidates vying to join the Sarasota City Commission met Thursday on the same stage for the first time and split down the middle on whether they support the administrative approval of certain downtown developments.

The hotly debated process, which leads city planners to approve a downtown project without formal public hearings if it meets existing zoning codes, has become a focal point in the March election as a group of neighborhood leaders calling themselves STOP! pushes the city to limit
administrative approvals.

It was the most divisive question the candidates faced before hundreds of attendees at the Sarasota Tiger Bay Club forum less than six weeks before the election for the commission’s two at-large seats.

Incumbent Susan Chapman and STOP! leader Jennifer Ahearn-Koch advocated most strongly for

limiting administrative approvals because they contend it cuts out public input from neighbors and potentially concerned residents. Also a former Planning Commission member, Ahearn-Koch has presented the STOP! case against administrative approvals at two well-attended town hall meetings in recent months.

“When we adopted the downtown master plan, it was assumed there was so much detail in that plan that discretion would be out of it, but there’s still lots of discretion,” Chapman said. “We are giving policy-making decisions on what our community should look like to city staff. Those policymaking decisions, we as a citizens, as elected officials, have no say so over.”

Fellow candidates Fredd Atkins, who was a longtime city commissioner, and Mikael Sandstrom, a young St. Armand’s businessman, agreed that the administrative process is not public enough.

“You all remember when you were so in love with Andra’s Duany?” Atkins said. “Everything he said was gold until it turned into reality. I had just got elected in 2003 and they begged me, ‘Fredd, just shut up, this is the perfect plan.’

“I said the buck stops with us, we should have some say,” he said. “They said, ‘Well, the attorneys are going to sue our hats off,’ and now our butt is dragging and we still don’t have a hat. The administration is being driven by the developers and they don’t care because the administration doesn’t even have to listen to the commission.”

But the other candidates sharply disagreed, instead supporting that approval process as a key to allowing the city to grow. To remove it would only obstruct development and potentially cripple a staple of the local economy.

“If you start yanking and pulling at our economy, if you start talking about the government controlling free enterprise, then we’re on a very slippery slope,” local businessman Martin Hyde said.

Even if the city did limit administrative approval, any projects going to the Planning Board or City

Commission would still be based on the existing code, said candidates Patrick Gannon, a Planning Board member, and Hagen Brody, a young attorney. If the public has problems with buildings like the Vue Sarasota Bay condominium complex, they need to consider how to make those changes in the planning codes, they said.

Longtime commission critic Matt Sperling summed up his thinking with an analogy about an airplane pilot asking the passengers for help instead of his co-pilots and air traffic controllers.

“The idea that the captain has to go through the cabin and get approval of the flight plan is absurd,” he said.

The candidates will vie March 14 for the commission’s two at-large seats, which effectively represent the entire city instead of particular districts. If no candidate wins a majority of the votes cast in the nonpartisan March race, a runoff election among the three candidates with the most votes will be May 9.

Other questions at the forum revolved around traffic, planning and homelessness, but time constraints kept the candidates from answering those issues in depth.

But moderator Morgan Bentley did surprise the candidates with a final question: Because the race is for two seats, for whom will the candidates cast their second vote?

Atkins and Sperling paired up, each saying they will cast their second vote for the other. They pitched themselves as a pair of lifelong residents who share similar values about Sarasota’s identity.

Chapman and Ahearn-Koch, who share similar views about stricter development controls, both said they would support the other.

Gannon said he will support Brody. But Brody hesitated to answer, saying he would reserve his decision until another candidate articulates “a clear vision for Sarasota.”

Hyde has clearly targeted Chapman during his campaign and took the chance to take another swing.

“Susan Cha,” he said before pausing and grinning, sending laughter throughout the audience. “No, no, no, anybody but Susan Chapman.”

He shrugged and said instead he would support Sandstrom, who gleefully said he would support Hyde in turn. The two fist bumped and the crowd laughed again